This easy Spicy Tuna Roll Recipe is an inside-out roll with rice on the outside. The spicy tuna includes sashimi-grade tuna mixed with a spicy mayo sauce that blends mayonnaise and sriracha sauce. Learn how to make your sushi rice and roll the sushi in the unique inside-out roll where the rice is on the outside.
This is a committed spicy tuna sushi roll that differs from the traditional California roll in Japanese restaurants. I love the spicy sauce that is mixed with the fresh tuna. It adds a kick that is awesome for the tastebuds.
This week is all about Japanese cuisine. Since I’m a third-generation Japanese American, I have a few recipes that I want to share. I’ve mostly concentrated on desserts in the past, so this year I’m slowly growing my dinner recipes over here. And I’m excited to add more through this new year. Here are a few from my recipe book that you might enjoy peeking at:
I want to mention that this post may look long and intimidating, but I wanted to cover every possible step and question about making sushi.
I’ve always had questions about various steps, and my mom and grandma never explained why they made it the way they did. So, I researched a few questions I had and found some interesting answers.
Seriously, once you dive in and make a few batches, you’ll see that making this sushi roll is not too difficult.
Growing up in Los Angeles, we had access to many Japanese groceries. And when I moved away to Vermont, my mom would send me some of the ingredients I couldn’t find. But, now grocery stores, Japanese restaurants, and Japanese food have become popular. As a child, I couldn’t imagine sharing my favorite sushi roll with my friends. As a young girl, I was shy about my Asian heritage and food. And it’s now so fun celebrating my favorite foods from our family. We have come a long way in broadening our cuisines and cultures!
What is a Spicy Tuna Roll?
The roll was invented in Los Angeles in the 1980s. The roll contains fresh tuna, Japanese sushi rice, and a nori sheet. The sashimi-grade ahi tuna is mixed with a yummy spicy mayo sauce that adds a nice spicy flavor to the sushi. It is the most popular roll among sushi rolls in the United States.
Tips for Making Homemade Sushi Rolls
Make Japanese Rice
You can’t substitute short-grained Japanese rice with regular rice when it comes to sushi rice. It’s a shorter-grained rice that’s plumper and moister, so it is stickier than other kinds of rice. And when it comes to making sushi, it’s an essential ingredient.
Use Sashimi Grade Tuna*
Buying a safely prepared tuna or Ahi is essential when making the spicy tuna mixture. The whole term Sashimi Grade Tuna is a bit of a misnomer. The grading is usually determined by the fish market that sells the fish. But, not to worry since Big Tuna falls in a category that is safe to eat raw. But, by law, shops also need to treat the fish with a deep freeze that kills parasites.
Cover A Bamboo Mat
So, growing up, I don’t remember my grandma covering her mat with plastic wrap, but it is a good thing. The plastic keeps the sticky rice from adhering to the mat and makes it easy when making an inside-out sushi roll.
A Sharp Knife
Cutting your sushi helps to have a sharp and wet knife. A sharp knife makes a clean cut. I, unfortunately, need to invest in an actually sushi knife that is super thin for making clean cuts.
My grandma and aunties also rolled up their sushi in wax paper, which was a huge advantage when cutting them.
Use a Wide or Shallow Bowl and Not a Metal One
The metal or aluminum bowl reacts with the acid in the vinegar can taint the sushi rice taste. Also, the metal bowl retains heat; we want the opposite for our sushi rice when we add the vinegar mixture.
Some Key Essentials for Making Homemade Spicy Tuna Rolls
- Bamboo Sushi Mat
- A Sharp Sushi Knife
- Plastic Wrap
- Rice Cooker (optional)
- A Plastic Rice Paddle (not essential, but super nice since the rice doesn’t stick to it)
Main Ingredients You’ll Need:
- Nori Seaweed Sheets
- Short Grain Japanese Rice
- Rice Vinegar (or White Vinegar)
- Granulated Sugar
- Sashimi Grade Tuna
- Butter Lettuce Leaves
- Sriracha Sauce or Hot Sauce
Directions on Making Your Spicy Tuna Roll Recipe
Sushi Rice Recipe
First off, you may be wondering what is sushi rice. It is Japanese rice mixed with sugar and vinegar and tastes sweet and vinegary. I love sushi rice 10x more than plain rice. So, I should mention that they sell sushi vinegar, specifically for making sushi, but I haven’t tried it, so I can’t tell you how good it is.
But, no need to buy the sauce since it is so easy to make.
Here are some helpful rice measurements when it comes to making sushi rice.
1 1/2 cup uncooked rice = 5 cups cooked rice, and you’ll use 1/4 cup of the vinegar mixture
Step 1 – Wash Rice
So growing up, my mom always washed our rice, and I didn’t understand the benefits of washing the rice. The rice has a starchy powder layer that prevents the rice from absorbing flavors. My mom and aunties probably knew this but never mentioned it to me.
Measure out the rice. Rinse the rice by adding water and stir your hand in the rice in either a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. Drain and add more water and repeat until rinsed water becomes almost clear.
Step 2 – Cook Short-Grained Rice
Take your measured and washed rice and add the appropriate amount of water. I like to allow my rice to sit in the water for about 15 minutes before cooking. My Auntie Kimi believed that this step made the rice even fluffier.
I have a rice cooker, so it takes all the guessing out of cooking rice. My machine even has a sushi rice setting. But, if you cook your rice the standard on the stovetop, that is also fine.
Step 3 – Make the Sushi Vinegar
While the rice is cooking, place the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and heat while stirring the mixture. Take off the stove once the sugar and salt have dissolved. Set aside for later, and we will add it to the rice when it’s cooled down.
A note about the sushi vinegar. You can adjust the vinegar and sugar ratio to your desired taste. I like my sushi rice to be on the sweet side, so this recipe errs to more sugar.
Step 4 – Combine Ingredients
Transfer rice to a large bowl and add small amounts of sushi vinegar to the rice. Using your rice paddle, cut through the rice, lift it, and fold it over the top. I’ve learned that this mixing method keeps you from mashing the rice down.
Repeat and add more vinegar and taste along the way. Just be careful not to add too much vinegar, so the rice becomes drenched and separated.
If you like, fan the rice as you’re mixing the vinegar into the rice. The fanning cools the rice and creates a desired sheen when making sushi rice. And by the way, you’ll want room-temperature rice when making your sushi rice.
Spicy Tuna Filling
Cube your fresh sushi grade tuna and then mince finely. Add the mayo and hot sauce mixture to the tuna. Mix thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate the tuna filling if you plan to make the sushi rice later.
Step 1 – Cover the Bamboo Sushi Mat
Cover your bamboo mat with a big piece of plastic wrap. Cover the whole thing and seal up the edges. Take a fork and poke a few holes in the plastic, ensuring not to cut the bamboo’s string. If you don’t poke the holes in the plastic to deflate it, the plastic doesn’t cling to the mat and becomes like a mini-balloon.
Step 2 – Get Your Work Surface Ready
Clear off your counter and get all your prepped ingredients out. Also, you’ll want a bowl of cold water to keep your finger damp so that the sticky rice doesn’t cling to your hands.
Step 3 – Trim Your Sheet of Nori
We will be using half the sheet. The nori has lines grained into it. Place the seaweed, so the lines are going left to right. Then cut the middle of the sheet. When you place the nori on your bamboo mat, the lines will still run left to right horizontally.
Note that the seaweed has two textures, a rough side, and a shiny side. Both sides will be covered with rice for an inside-out sushi roll, so we don’t have to worry about which side is up or down!
Step 4 – Pat Sushi Rice On Nori
Take about a cup of your sushi rice and gently pat down a handful of sushi on your mat. Make a layer of rice and fill it to the edges of the sushi.
Step 5 – Flip Sushi
Now you’ll want to turn over the nori and rice, so the rice faces the mat. The sheet of nori should be facing you.
Step 6 – Add Ahi
Place your prepared tuna mixture horizontally near the middle and towards the bottom of your nori. Place your butter lettuce leaves on top of the tuna. Some people like to add chopped green onions for a crunchy center.
Step 7 – Roll Sushi
Take the bottom edge of the sushi mat and begin rolling the sushi. After the first roll, hold onto the already rolled section along with the bamboo and pull up the top end of the mat. This will ensure that you roll the sushi tightly. When you get to the end of rolling, squeeze the bamboo mat, so the edges seal together.
I fried some wonton sheets and spread the crushed crunchies on the sushi roll. Of course, this is optional.
Spicy Tuna Roll Recipe
Nori Sheets (Seaweed)
- 1½ cup uncooked short grain Japanese rice
- 2 cup water
- water for rinsing rice
Vinegar Sauce for Rice
- 4½ tsp sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ cup rice vinegar you can use white vinegar
Spicy Tuna Filling
- 1 lb sushi-grade Tuna
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise
- 2 tsp Sriracha sauce can add less or more depending how hot you like your sushi
- Butter Lettuce leaves
- We will be using half the sheet at a time. The nori has lines in it, place the seaweed so the lines are going left to right. Then cut the middle of the sheet. When you place the nori on your bamboo mat the lines will be still running left to right horizontally.
- Cover your bamboo mat with a big piece of plastic wrap. Cover the whole thing and seal up the edges. Take a fork and poke a few holes in the plastic making sure to not cut the string that holds the bamboo together.
- Measure out rice. Rinse the rice by adding water and stir your hand in the rice in either a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. Drain and add more water and repeat until rinsed water becomes almost clear.
- Take your measured and washed rice and add the appropriate amount of water. I like to allow my rice to sit in the water for about 15 minutes before cooking.
- While the rice is cooking, place the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and heat while stirring the mixture. Taste the mixture and add more sugar, salt and vinegar to taste. Take off the stove once the sugar and salt have dissolved. Set aside for later, and we will add it to the rice.
Making Sushi Rice
- Transfer rice to a large bowl and add small amounts of the sushi vinegar to the rice. Using your rice paddle, cut through the rice, lift it, and fold it over the top. Repeat and add more vinegar and taste along the way. Just be careful that you don’t add too much vinegar so that the rice becomes drenched and separated.
- If you like, fan the rice as you’re mixing the vinegar into the rice. The fanning cools the rice and creates a desired sheen when making sushi rice. And by the way, you’ll want the rice to be room temperature when making your sushi.
Spicy Tuna Mixture
- Cube your fresh sushi-grade tuna and then mince finely. In a small bowl add the mayo and hot sauce and mix. Add the sauce to the mayonnaise and mix. Next add the spicy sauce to the tuna and mix. Cover and refrigerate the tuna filling if you plan to make the sushi rice later.
- You’ll want a bowl of cold water to keep your fingers damp, so the sticky rice doesn’t cling to your hands.
- Clean and dry some cut-up Butter lettuce leaves.
- Take about a 1 cup to ¾ cup of sushi rice and gently pat down a handful of sushi on your mat. Make a layer of rice and fill it to the edges of the sushi.
- Now you’ll want to turn over the nori and rice, so the rice faces the mat. The sheet of nori should be on top and facing you.
- Place your prepared tuna mixture horizontally near the middle and a little towards the bottom of your nori. Place your butter lettuce leaves on top of the tuna. Some people add chopped green onions as well for a crunchy center.
- Take the bottom edge of the sushi mat and begin rolling the sushi. Try to roll the sushi tightly. When you get to the end of rolling, squeeze the bamboo mat, so the edges seal together.
- Place a sheet of wax paper around your sushi and twist the ends to seal. When cutting the sushi, use a sharp knife and cut through the paper and sushi into sections.
- When serving remove the wax paper and place on a plate with all the other sushi.
Toppings for Your Sushi
- Mayo/Sriracha Sauce
- Pickled Ginger
- Black Sesame Seeds
- Soy Sauce
- Japanese Mayonnaise
- Chili Sauce
Frequently Asked Questions
How to Store Sushi
Wet two kitchen towels and squeeze out the excess water. Place one damp paper towel on your counter and place your sushi on the towel. Then place your second damp paper towel on top of the sushi roll up the sushi with the towels. Then cover the whole thing with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the sushi.
How Long Does Sushi Last
Since sushi tends to dry out when stored, I only make enough for the meal. I feel it’s best eaten the same day it is made. But, if you have a lot of leftovers, store them like the above directions, and it probably will be fine the next day.
What are the Different Types of Tuna
Albacore Tuna: It’s among the smaller tuna and has a mild taste.
Bluefin Tuna: It is the largest tuna. It has a melt-in-your-mouth flavor and is used for sushi. It’s a fatty tuna and has a rich flavor. Bluefin is expensive and is found in high-end restaurants.
Ahi Tuna: Ahi is divided into two species, Yellowfin and Bigeye. It is a leaner meat with a lighter taste. It is used in sushi.
Canned Tuna – You’ll find Albacore tuna in cans at the grocery store. Some chefs do use canned tuna in sushi. I haven’t made this type of sushi.
The more you practice rolling sushi, the more it will look like something you might order at your favorite sushi restaurant. And once you get accustomed to making this spicy tuna roll recipe, you’ll think it is easy. Make it for a date night or some special occasion. Add some crushed, crispy wonton noodles to create a crunchy spicy tuna roll.
I hope I didn’t overwhelm you with all the detailed instructions, but I want you to be fully prepared. I hope I covered all your questions in this spicy tuna roll recipe post.
*This spicy tuna roll recipe does contain raw fish in the form of raw tuna.